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Archive for December, 2008

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The 19-year-old me ... mother of 2

The 19-year-old me ... mother of 2

I have been writing much about new love and the wonders it brings, but today is New Years Eve day, and this one … like every one since 1967 … requires that I take some time to dwell on an old one.

I was 16 on this day 41 years ago, in love and feeling as though my future was secure.

Sure, many 16-year-old girls are convinced that their soulmate has found them and that happy-ever-after is a done deal, and perhaps that was the case for me then, but Gary … Gary Wayne Boggs … was special.

Gary and I had been together since I was 14 … a long relationship for a teen … and he was my salvation.

My family life at the time was rocky … to say the least … and his home, complete with his mom and his twin brother, Greg, was my bolt hole, my safe place, the roof under which I could relax and be myself.

I was a wild child, and it being the 60s … we were, after all, only a few months from the “Summer of Love” … had all the chance in the world to live up to the title is spades. I counted amongst my friends Hells Angles and drug dealers and Black Panthers and rock stars … it was California, you see … and I had very close to no parental supervision.

My time was my own, aside from infrequent required check-ins, and no one cared much where I went or what I go up to.

No one, that is, but Gary.

He was 19 in 1967, and had for 2 years taken it upon himself to see that I had someone to answer to. He was patient and understood that I had wings that needed testing, so gave me room to do just that, but it was clear that I would have ‘splainin’ to do if I disappeared for a few days or appeared suddenly looking rode hard and put away wet.

He protected my virginity as if it were some treasure I had no right to squander, and more than once was sent for when I got myself into situations where dire consequence was inevitable.

How many times the sound of his Harley would thunder from the street signaling a saving grace that meant that I would not have to pay the band even though I’d willingly, and stupidly, danced.

His plans were well-laid: I would have my time to grow up, to get all the wildness out of my system, to taste the fruits of the tree of knowledge, and suffer all consequences that would teach me, but not hurt me too seriously; then, when I’d finished school … university included … we would marry, have 4 kids, live in Berkeley, not far from his mother, and work to make the world a better place.

His determination toward this future was my touchstone and made all things possible.

On New Years Eve day 1967, Gary ran to the store to buy cigarettes for his mother … and himself, too, I’m sure, but that part of the story holds no guilt for anyone and wasn’t discussed. On the way home, a woman with 3 screaming kids in her Buick station wagon pulled out of a side road into the path of Gary on his Harley. She broadsided him, throwing the bike down, and Gary head first into a telephone pole. His neck was broken and he died instantly.

I wasn’t there for the aftermath, having been unceremoniously sent north to live with my mother, but will never forget the phone call from his brother that broke the news to me.

I still have the ring he gave me, but lost the drumsticks his mom insisted were meant for me … instruments of funny torture they’d been for years, but I can barely stand to remember those times, even now.

What he would have become is a question I ponder often … although so fully formed at 17 when we met that I can easily picture him pushing 60 … and what my life would have been like had I not been left to my own devices, and vices … by the following year I was pregnant and headed into a loveless marriage, shotgun-style … taunts me.

This will be the 41st new year that begins with him not in the world … the 40th that ends … and the world is poorer for the loss. For 41 years I have spent time with him on this day, remembering, wondering, and missing him.

Rest in peace, Gary. You live in my heart, and always will …

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Sam got a camera from Uncle T and Auntie R for Christmas, so he was the official photographer for the holiday.

Enjoy …

The discochristmas tree ... it spins!

The discochristmas tree ... it spins!

KJ and Cj hanging out Christmas morn

KJ and Cj hanging out Christmas morn


Calina Christmas morning

Calina Christmas morning


Sam, Kimmy and Cj

Sam, Kimmy and Cj

Fairy bearing gift

Fairy bearing gift


Christmas dinner at Gay's

Christmas dinner at Gay's

Christmashead Murphy

Christmashead Murphy


Sam and his pal, Estelle

Sam and his pal, Estelle

Cj posing ... as per instuctions ... for Sam

Cj posing ... as per instuctions ... for Sam

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Friend steps

Friend steps


I’ve been writing a lot about friends lately, and the impact they have on my life and on my veranda … and now it’s time to talk a bit about the hard part of this: how they come, and how they go.

Portia rather dropped in from out of the sky, which was a bonus, and we put her on a plane back to South Africa this morning. I’ve only known her for a few days, but she fit well into the family and is already missed.

Magnar has been around for much longer, although not to the same degree as he has been this week. (Note the photo of the exploding Norwegian and get an idea of his impact on my veranda.)

Magnar and I are having a big party here tomorrow to mark the occasion of his 36th birthday … photos and blog posts to follow. What we’re not talking about, not even for a minute if I can help it, is the fact that it will also be his going-away party.

Yes, Magnar leaves for Norway Sunday morning, and whether or not he comes back is still up in the air and depends on factors we have little control over … although I am doing my damnedest to ensure a return soon next year.

Just writing that brings tears to my eyes, but this blog is supposed to be therapeutic, so I must slog through the feelings his imminent departure conjures.

To tell the truth, I really don’t know how I’m going to make it without him.

Magnar has saved me, and not only through his tremendous hugs and comforting love, but also because he’s a bloody annoying nag that can fix anything. He has taken such good care of me and the kids, leveled my road, sorted out computer issues, set up my phone so I can access the Internet from anywhere, taught Sam the value of hard work and challenges, and generally set the bar for all of us inspiring the best, and not just to make him proud, but because he sees us for what we are and believes in us.

(He just saw me crying while writing and noticed how much I need a hug. He knows I’m writing about him, so asked me to include something about how often I’ve left him snot-covered. Feckin’ Norwegian!)

People come into my life, then they go … although never completely. With the Internet, I now have dear, dear friends I’ve never met, and for those who have shared my veranda a way to stay in touch every day and forever. And how great is that?

But change is a part of life, and with island life a predictable part of the process. I’m much better at airport good-byes than I was the first few years here, and see them coming years in advance, but some are impossible.

This one will be impossible, and the only hope I have of not falling to bits is to be so hungover that my head stops my heart from noticing.

Yes, I have wonderful friends … the best in the world … now they just have to stop leaving me.

The detritus of an exploding Norwegian

The detritus of an exploding Norwegian


The family ... this morning

The family ... this morning

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Portia ... stong in many ways

Portia ... stong in many ways

Will admit right here and now that I’m a HUGE fan of facebook. Not only have I met some of the world’s most wonderful people through this somewhat strange, but strangely comfortable social network, it turns out to also be close to a lifesaver under certain circumstances.

Take yesterday, for an example …

A while back I was “friended” by a young woman in South Africa. She sent her “add” invite to me because I’m listed in the “Seychelles network”, and she was engaged to a man here, so was interested in meeting people living in the country.

We “poked” back and forth and followed each others lives as posted on our “walls”, so when I read that she was planning a trip over, I sent her my phone number and suggested she give a call so we could meet in person.

She had just returned to SA from the Commonwealth Games in Cyprus where she took the gold in her weightlifting class … an impressive achievement … and wanted to surprise her hubby-to-be.

Wish I’d had a chance to warn her about Seychellois men …

Upon finding out that it was her to be surprised … him, not so much … she was not only heartbroken, but stuck — nowhere to stay but his empty flat, knowing no one and with a ticket that had her here until the 11th of January.

I was very pleased to get her call, but less so to learn of her situation. Of course, my immediate reaction was: Get your butt down here, Sweetie.

I picked her up in town, brought her home and dropped her right into the fray that is Magnar packing and Calina and Kim doing a sleepover … a full house!

With “dumped” being a familiar word on my veranda, there was is no shortage of commiseration … or wine … so she settled in, vented, bonded and now feels like one of this fab little family I’ve grown over the past months.

And all because of an online social intro that led to a much-needed bolt hole and friendships that will go on for ages.

I won’t even go into the phone calls from Switzerland that had me sharing my moon in the wee hours of this morning …

Wow.

Amazing.

Photo Credit: Magnar Mork

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Magnar and Calina ... beauties both

Magnar and Calina ... beauties both

One thing I can say for not having a husband in the house anymore … it sure leaves room, and time, for friends.

Over the past week I’ve had Calina staying with me, and Magnar most days and nights, as well, and it’s been great. Relaxed and easy, it’s felt a bit like an extended episode of The Waltons, only with different accents, Calina being French and English and Magnar, Norwegian, so very little of West Virginia happening vocally here.

Goodnight, Calina!
Goodnight, Sam!
Goodnight, Cj!
Goodnight, Magnar!
Goodnight, Sandra!

Last night the kids went to Grandma’s house and we big kids went to a Christmas Party at our friend Deb’s house, and, yes, there are photos …

The three of us ...

The three of us ...

Sleeping Beauty ... the nap before the party

Sleeping Beauty ... the nap before the party

Note: Calina really is Sleeping Beauty, or was … at Disneyland Paris. Just imagine her in a blond wig and you get the picture. Smile and wave … smile and wave …

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When it comes to news sources, I use many. From the Huffington Post (a fabulous online publication with the good sense to employ my brilliant niece), to the Adoption Institute, from the the BBC to CNN and back again, there’s a world of info at our fingertips, and anything that must be known can … with a good salt shaker in hand, some common sense and a willingness to learn and listen carefully.

That said, I must admit that one of my daily “must reads” has little to do with learning, but everything to do with a shaker full and common sense.

Yes, that would be The Onion … the premier site for satire dressed in news clothing, and every bit as biting as such an animal should be.

Take, for example, this article, titled: Study: 38 Percent Of People Not Actually Entitled To Their Opinion.

Now if it’s not a sticky bit from my own brain extrapolated out into three paragraphs of undiluted poetic slap-upside-the-head-with-a-sackfull-of-nickels!

In a surprising refutation of the conventional wisdom on opinion entitlement, a study conducted by the University of Chicago’s School for Behavioral Science concluded that more than one-third of the U.S. population is neither entitled nor qualified to have opinions.

Well … yeah …

Living internationally, as I do, I personally wouldn’t limit the “study results” to Americans, but since The Onion is US based, I’ll leave them to it.

Read it and weep … and laugh … and question just about everything about the world making any sense at all.

And … when you’re done … eat a piece of my history with this vid of the Byrds, recalled with fondness — the moment I saw it can be placed in context — doing a TV version of bible verses with “Turn Turn Turn”.

Enjoy …

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Cj ... one happy girl!

Cj ... one happy girl!

Magnar left about 9:30 last night, and Calina and I managed to pack up the computers at 10ish … very early for us these days … and in my usual check of the kids — Magnar had put them both to bed and they were fine at the time — found puke all over Sam’s bed, Cj’s pajama top on the floor, also vomit-covered, and her asleep on her bed.

Seems she’d tossed her cookies, then stoically tidied and moved.

What is it with this kid?

Never in my life have I known a child as calm and collected as my Cj, and I can’t help but wonder how these traits will serve her as she grows.

She’s the happiest kid I’ve ever known … if given the choice between happy or un, she chooses happy every time, and happily. She smiles even when fighting tears, or tries to, and pulls herself together after tragedy faster than most adults.

A few hours later, she was crying. When I went to her she only said, “I want my Sam”, so I helped in to her brother’s bed again and she immediately settled and slept peacefully until 5:30 this morning, our usual wake-up time.

(Have to add here that dear Kim … off to London for a week … called Calina, and it seems she was ill last night, too. She was on about being all brave and stuff … right up to the point that Calina reminded her that Cj is THREE. Oops.)

Is there a genetic element to Cj’s stoicism? Some influence from me? Did spending the first 13 weeks of her life in an orphanage somehow toughen her up and make her determined to always look on the bright side?

Or is it just who she is?

Not that it matters.

We are all, when it comes down to it, no more or less than the sum of parts, and who we are.

I just happen to have the supreme good fortune to add to who I am the title of Cj’s mom”.

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